The last two articles discussed some of the lesser known potential dangers of the Internet. The last part of this three part series will discuss a few suggestions for preventing and overcoming these struggles.
Before we begin, however, I want to first give a brief disclaimer. These suggestions are not meant to be a comprehensive list of remedies for the issues discussed below. Nor are these suggestions meant for those with deep-rooted addictions and troubles. If you are struggling with a long-term addiction with some of these topics, I urge you to seek professional help, where you can. Check out the counseling page at NetAddiction for some opportunities to speak with telephone counselors. I hope to provide a few practical and simple ideas that you may choose to use.
Since all of these involve the Internet, one overarching suggestion is to limit the amount of time spent using a computer and the Internet. Get up and move to another room without a computer, if needed. If moving rooms simply isn’t possible, get up and walk around the chair or distract yourself by reading a book or magazine. The key is to break any cycles and/or feelings of need that may draw you towards some of these online woes.
● Online gambling. As referenced above and in part one of this series, NetAddiction is an excellent site with many resources for those struggling with online issues.
Give yourself an amount of money that you are willing to lose. Setting a money limit not only ensures you won’t go broke trying to hit it big, but also gives you more control over what happens to your money and how it is spent.
If you are grappling with online gambling, one key is to involve others while you are trying to overcome your struggles. Tell a family member or loved one about your struggles and ask for help. Have them check-in on you as often as needed to see how you are doing.
Another good resource for struggles with online gambling is an organization out of London, England called GamCare. They have resources specific to the UK as well as links to international organizations that help with gambling addictions. Check our their tips page for working with addicted online gamblers.
● Online video game playing. Parents can help their children limit online game playing by (1) monitoring time spent playing games and (2) talking with your children about the types of games they play. Parents have been setting time limits on television viewing for decades and the same principals can apply to online video game playing.
In an upcoming blog I’ll review some gadgets that allow parents to monitor and control time spent on a computer. Some even come with timers with locks and keys for helping limit the amount of time spent on the computer.
Be involved in your children’s games, even if you really don’t enjoy playing video games. Ask questions and try to understand the games they are playing. It is easy to assume that games with harmless names or fun-looking characters are always appropriate for kids. Check out the online game sites that your children access regularly and see the types of games offered. It’s amazing to think that the same sites that offer fun Disney type games also offer games with titles such as “Kindergarten killer,” and “Kitten Cannon” that are easily accessible to children.
Put the computer your children play games on in a public place in your house, such as the kitchen or main family gathering area. This includes keeping computers from kids’ rooms, where behind closed doors any number of things could be going on with the computer. Having the computer in a public place makes your monitoring job easier and getting away with playing inappropriate games more difficult. Use speakers instead of headphones so you can hear the audio from the games being played.
● Online auctions and shopping. Set a spending limit and stick to it. Setting a spending limit may require you to set a budget, and if so, I’ll refer to you our Familes.com Money thread. If you truly cannot control your online shopping habits, a good option may be to forgo online shopping altogether. It is too easy with just a few mouse clicks to spend money on impulse purchases. By sticking to shopping at traditional storefronts, you usually have more time to think about your potential impulse purchases as you stand in line and wait for a cashier. You can also usually return purchased items more easily to a storefront than an online company who may charge you shipping and return fees.
● Endless web searching. As with the other struggles we have been talking about limit time on the Internet to help control endless searches. You can set an alarm on your watch or computer that will sound after a set amount of time. Be true to yourself and even if you just want to check one more sports score or read one more news article, close your browser when the alarm sounds.
Plan your Internet use. Have a purpose for going online and when you finish the purpose, turn off the computer or close your internet browser. I find that idle time is usually when I get into endless searches. Better planning and thinking ahead may guard against the eventual waste of time that can easily happen.